Cover of Stevie WonderIf you watched the X Factor last night you were there for one of the rare moments of TV magic. Wonderful new talents were uncovered and by the end of the show I was touched and amazed, entertained and uplifted (and I don’t usually use words like uplifted). There were also a couple of truly bad performances for us to enjoy and one pants -less performance for us to be grossed out by. There were people who exhibited huge doses of confidence for no apparent reason and then there were the truly talented.
The genius of the show is that we are treated to a background film about each successful performer before we hear them so we already know that what we will hear will be special and we already feel personally invested in the audition. We don’t just meet the singer, we meet the family members who came to the audition with them and we see them reunited with their families after their performances. If allows us to tap into the emotions of the singers as well as their performances. When they cry we wipe away a bit of moisture from the corners of our own eyes. When they collapse on the stage in stunned happiness we find ourselves standing up in our living room saying things like “yes”, and “that was amazing” and “I hope he’s not too fragile right now to handle this” to the cat who just continues grooming her ballerina legs.
It made me happy to see these people do so well in a hugely intimidating environment. I loved when Rachel Crow who is only 13 sang “Mercy” by Duffy and when Stacy Francis, a 42 year old who had been somewhat beaten down by life, sang “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin to a standing ovation. My pleasure continued when Marcus Canty, 20, sang “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder and made those of us who heard the young Stevie Wonder feel like we were in that moment once again, when The Anser, three 20-27-year-old very “sick” guys sang Rolling in the Deep, and last, but definitely not least, when Chris Rene, the trash collector and 28-year-old father of two, only 70 days clean and sober, sang a song he wrote himself (often a recipe for disaster) called “Young Homie” and brought the house down. Wicked. It was one of those ’hope you were there moments’ when TV viewers were treated to the purely vicarious enjoyment of someone else’s success.